Longbourne at Castlemaine

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a class with Katrina Hadjimichael. http://katrinahadjimichael.blogspot.com.au/

The class was hosted by Corliss of Threadbear Patchwork and Quilting in Castlemaine. http://www.threadbear.com.au/

I have been an admirer of Katrina’s work for a number of years, so when I heard that she was to teach here in Victoria, I knew I had to be there! The quilt being taught was “Longbourne”,  number 3 in Katrina’s Jane Austen series, which currently numbers eight. It’s a feast of applique, fussy cutting and English Paper Piecing. Bliss!

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Katrina and “Longbourne”.

Twenty eager ladies gathered in the light and cosy venue for a day filled with lots of learning, inspiration, friendship, laughter and delicious food (that I didn’t have to prepare!!)

When we arrived and found a spot to park our bags, belongings and bodies, we received a lovely little gift bag from Corliss, complete with chocolate sustenance and fabric treasures.

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What’s inside?

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Katrina also came armed with a gift: a copy of the recent Quilters Companion magazine which included a DVD featuring Katrina and her tips for Jelly Roll quilts.

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Then to the real work of the day! Katrina is a very organised and meticulous teacher and led us through the various techniques and processes required to make our own version of Longbourne. All the extensive notes, beautifully drawn pattern sheets, and a collection of photos showing in detail various elements of the quilt, were presented in a display folder for each participant.

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Pattern sheets and detailed instructions in a display folder.

Most participants chose to use reproduction fabrics for their quilts as in Katrina’s original, but one other brave soul and yours truly ventured into the realm of brights. I have decided this presents an additional challenge: many of the fabrics in bright modern fabric ranges have larger scale designs on them. For some elements of the quilt, especially the centre panel, small scale designs are also necessary. I found I had to go shopping for some additional fabric. (Oh dear, such a hardship)

At the beginning of the class one lady asked Katrina what her secret is for such accurate and neat work? In short, the answer is attention to detail.  All applique components are tacked onto paper first. Katrina takes great care when tracing and cutting out her pattern pieces. No sloppy workmanship here!

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Tacking onto cartridge paper for fussy cut components.


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More tacking.

Here’s Katrina demonstrating how she makes tiny (3/8″) hexagons. And the thread of choice… Aurifil of course!! (Here she is using 50 weight).

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And so, to sew. The bias stems come first.

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Ready to applique the bias stems.

I have not done a great deal of actual sewing as yet, but I have done a little playing with various fabric combinations, and lots of thinking about my creation.

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Playing and thinking.

And when Longbourne is finished, there may be another of Katina’s Jane Austen quilts calling me.

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Lambton, the latest in Katrina’s Jane Austen collection.

Thank you Katrina and Corliss for a most enjoyable and inspirational day.


A Reproduction WIP (Work in Progress)

Some time ago, I purchased the pattern Queen Square by Sue Ambrose. (A Somerset Patchwork pattern  www.somersetpatchwork.com.au )

I thought this would be an excellent design to use for all the reproduction fabrics I had been collecting.

Queen Square pattern

Queen Square pattern

As you can see from the photo, there are 20 main blocks, comprising three different designs, and two borders.  While some quilters like a totally scrappy look, I prefer a bit of uniformity, which you will notice in my colour/fabric selection.

To construct the blocks I have used a combination of different techniques, including English paper piecing, needle turn applique and tacking over freezer paper. Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne40 and Ne50 threads are suitable for these tasks and enable me to stitch with (almost) invisible stitches. I have used my light-box to trace designs as well as using a placement overlay. You can read a description of the overlay method in my earlier post  http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/design-transfer-dilemma/ 

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Tracing the design using my light-box.

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Placing the applique pieces using a design overlay.

The first block looks like this.

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Block one in construction.

…..and this.

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The first block completed.

The second block design  has twelve blocks, four each of three different colourways.

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Preparing the hearts by tacking onto freezer paper

The finished blocks look like this…

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Second block version one.

And this…

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Second block version two.

And this…

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Second block version three.

I have not yet completely made the third block, but have prepared all the components by tacking them onto freezer paper and joining them together.  In the picture you can see that I have placed them on the background fabric.  As I sew I will remove the tacking and papers.

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Third block. The outer ring is pinned ready to sew,. The inner ring is just sitting in place so that I could see how it would look.

This kind of project is a lot of work, but I really enjoy the hand sewing, and it is certainly satisfying seeing it all come together.

Keep watching this blog and I will post more pictures of my Reproduction WIP as I work towards its completion.

English Paper Piecing…Hexagons and More!

Always Quilting recently blogged about hexagons and the pleasures of their constuction as well as the advantages they present for portable sewing projects. http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/hexies-can-mak…rtable-project/ ‎

One of my “current”  projects uses some hexagons in its design and so I’ve been using the English paper piecing technique a bit recently.  In addition, several of my “forthcoming” projects also use this technique, so it has given me the opportunity to try out some methods and I’d like to share with you the way I have found works best for me.

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Hexagons used in my current project.

First you need to prepare your papers.  Traditionally quilters made their own papers from stiff paper or lightweight card (old greeting cards are often a good weight), but these days it is easy to buy pre-made papers in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.  One of the advantages of buying pre-made papers is that they are accurately printed and cut.   If you would like to make your own you can go to http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/hexagonal/ and print them from your computer.  This site is worth checking out, as it allows you to select your shape and size requirements.

Once the papers are ready, you need to attach them to the fabric.  In the past quilters would pin or use a paperclip to hold the papers in place and tack them in position, usually through both the paper and fabric.

Just this week I saw advertised some papers which can be fused to the fabric.  They are made from soluable applique paper, and are currently available as pre-cut hexagons in 3 sizes with more to come.  After construction you can leave the papers in as a stabiliser or wash your item for a softer look.  http://www.hugsnkisses.net/index.php/shop/other-thingys/applique-paper-precuts.

Some sewers advocate using a the Sewline gluestick .  A dab of glue is used in the centre  to hold the paper in position, and then around the edges to secure the seam allowance in place.  This removes the need for pins or tacking, but when I tried this for myself, I found it quite difficult to remove the papers and as a result, the fabric edges also frayed and became messy.

Instead, I now employ a small dab of glue, just  in the centre of the paper as before, so that I don’t have to use pins which tend to distort the shape.

Use just a small dab of glue in the centre o your hexagon.
Use just a small dab of glue in the centre of your hexagon.

Then I tack the paper to the fabric, but I do not go through the paper, just the fabric, using a small overstitch to hold the fold in each corner and a small running stitch between corners.  I use a fine thread, Aurifil 50 weight,  for this task, and try to use a colour which blends in.  This means that I do not have to bother removing the tacking threads before appliqueing the hexagons to the background fabric..

Tacking the fabric, but not the paper.

Tacking the fabric, but not the paper.

It is important to iron the shapes as you make them before joining them together.

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Iron hexagons as you go.

Once the hexagons or other shapes are ironed and you have a nice crisp edge, you can whipstitch them together taking care to make sure that the corners meet neatly. Sixteen stitches to the inch is the recommended size for whipstitching.  As before,  Aurifil 50 weight is ideal and makes it easy to achieve almost invisible stitching.  Once again, I iron my joined shapes, with the papers still in place, before I applique them to the background.

In the next photo you can see how I have used a shape with a curved edge.  A small running stitch along the curve helps to gather in the fullness.  Corners and straight edges are dealt with as before.

Gathering the curved edge.

Gathering the curved edge.

Lastly, before appliqueing the shapes onto the background, you need to remove the papers.  This is done easily by flexing the hexagon and “popping” each paper out.  Small tweezers can assist with this.  As I said, I do not bother to remove the tacking.  Generally, papers can be re-used several times.

Cardboard papers are easy to remove after pressing.

Cardboard papers are easy to remove after pressing.

The  curved shapes used in the photo above only required joining at each tip as I was making them into a wreath.  You can see how effective fussy-cutting can be.

Pinning and appliqueing the shapes in place.

Pinning and appliqueing the shapes in place.

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More fussy cutting in these jewel shapes.

The curved shapes form the centre of my current project which is “Louisa” by Carol Roberts. http://www.cherrypiedesigns.com/  This is what the completed centre looks like.

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The centre of my quilt.

And if I remain on-task and am not too distracted by other projects or the housework, I will hopefully be able to share with you the finished quilt, or at least quilt top, before too long.

Dressed at Last!!

Some time ago I purchased a cushion pattern designed by Carol Roberts www cherrypiedesigns.com  My intention was to make a pair of cushions for our “naked” family room sofa.

When we went on holiday in January, I decided this would be a suitable hand project to take with me.

The cushions have some applique which I did using the needle- turn method and some English paper piecing. I used Aurifil Ne 50 thread which is lovely and fine and enables neat stitching.

Constructing the cushion top.

I then used Aurifil Ne 12 thread in a contrasting colour to lightly quilt the tops.  This added definition to the design without overwhelming it.

Adding the quilting.

Once the tops were completed, I joined them to the cushion backs by machine.  The pattern suggested using binding to do this, in the same way you bind the front and back of a quilt.  I had not used this method on a cushion before, but was very pleased with the neat appearance this created.

A finished cushion.

Now my sofa is “dressed”……..but my husband wants to know what I intend to do about the naked armchairs!!